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#PoeticLicence: Everyone has a channel now; we are telling our own stories

Author Rabbie Serumula. File image.

Author Rabbie Serumula. File image.

Published May 30, 2021


The rise of the digital revolution is bringing power back to the people.

You can see it in how their cell phones are transforming into weapons with webcams and antiviruses as shields.

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How their live videos draw viewers away from broadcast media; and how it is dwindling.

Everyone has a channel now; we are telling our own stories.

Answering questions our parents never asked. Tackling topics that have been taboo for decades. Piecing fragments of our linage from the internet and delivering them in watch-size bits.

Podcasting is rising. We are conscientising ourselves.

But where there is light, an equal amount of darkness lurks in the shadows.

You can see it in the opposite slanting of mass culture from mass media. In how SABC would love to make us pay TV licence for streaming YouTube.

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That reminds me of the pitiful Post Office fighting to be sole deliverer off all packages that weigh less than a kilogram.

People have failed exams waiting for the Post Office to get their act together, again.

Disappointing consistently in vain with their grant payments; our grandparents storm the cold, stand against the wind with a handful of change for a taxi back home to our townships, to our villages. The same handful was meant for bread. It was meant for half full stomachs for another day. But it has been another day and the Post Office queues are not moving, their systems are offline.

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‘Offline’ doesn’t sit well with old legs, so they play musical chairs.

What a beautiful game it would be if it was properly played at hospitals too.

Wheelchairs there are scarce.

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I remember it was about seven years ago; my aunt felt ill and was taken to Baragwanath Hospital. She sat on the floor for days. She was cold and hardly ate.

By the time she was given a bed, she did not last too long.

And my dear cousin, ever so kind, was a few years my senior and is survived by two children. A few years later she had the same experience, at the same hospital. May they continue resting in peace.

For our grandmothers, ‘Offline’ does not sit well with old minds either.

There is no chair for a head sitting in a taxi going home and thinking; “I just spent my last R10 on this taxi and I didn’t get my grant. What will the children eat?”

And if grandmother makes it home intact, what tales will fill the children’s tummies? – you know taxi drivers are on a separate mission. It cannot be all that easy to maintain your calm while chasing commission. Their existence is predominant beyond the yellow line. They conjure spells when they tout. They magically appear in tiny spaces between cars in traffic.

It is ordained, our grandparents must take these taxis. Every revolution has casualties.

But remember, where there is light, an equal amount of darkness lurks in the shadows.

So, for as much as it is easier for us to tell our stories ourselves now, we cannot forget that the rise of this digital is also taking power away from the people, the poor.

Being disconnected pushes them further into the dark ages. Eskom isn’t helping, they are sages who wage war against light.

Government has a body count on the casualties in this digital revolution.

The Saturday Star

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